CARY – There was plenty of buzz, several hundred people huddled and talking, and the subject was neither SARS nor Gulf War II.

So much so, in fact, LTW contributors spent much of the evening Thursday at Triangle tech Journal’s Bionetworking event not only talking business but also about the importance of, as one exec said, getting out of the labs and into the real world.

Eric Gregg, publisher of TTJ, after counting how many name tags were left at the end of the night, said 500 or more people attended.

“I really like the idea of people coming to these events, talking business, talking policy,” said Tom Vass of Corporate Investment Center, Raleigh. “It’s so important for our community to have open forums. That’s the way business gets done.”

Lawyers, public relations professionals, and real estate agents also found the event profitable. “This was a wonderful opportunity to network with people that as a rule you don’t see everywhere,” said Sheila Mikhail of Life Science Law, Durham. “I found two opportunities for my clients.”

Scott Place of Maverick Marketing, a sponsor, added, “This was a great way for us to meet early stage companies and a great venue to launch Bio Science Learning.”

Biosciences Learning introduced its service of providing rich media development for communicating complex chemical and biological subjects to diverse audiences.

“We would absolutely do this again,” said Place.

A new “virtual” advertising agency, Distill, agreed. “We made quite a few contacts and a lot of people need Web sites,” said Distill ceative diector Adam Cohen.

Susan Weemsdirector of Venture Management Inc., Raleigh, said, “We connected with a lot of people we haven’t seen for a while. VMI consults with businesses to help them grow and Weems said, “In biotech, a lot of times, founders and scientists are not expert in business,” so they’re good targets for her business.

VMI teaches the Fast Trac program for veterans who want to start companies. The Vets pay $350 for the four-week course, and if they complete a business plan by the end, they get a free Gateway computer, Weems said.

Dawn Franklinof Zen Bio, another sponsor with a booth, said, “We’re an international company and not in as much touch locally as we would like. This really helped us get in touch with potential clients and partners on the local level.”

David Morgan, director of NMR services for Raleigh-based Liposcience, added, “It’s a great way to get out of the labs, find out what other people are doing and make them more aware of Liposcience. It’s also great one-stop shopping for business service people.”

Allan Maurer covers biotechnology and life sciences for LTW.